Fighting Radicalisation and Extremism Online

Published: 18 June 2015

Region: Worldwide

UNESCO_Irina_BokovaUNESCO has launched new integrated Framework of Action – Empowering Youth to Build Peace which aims to equip young people with knowledge, skills and values of online communication so that they can mobilise critical thinking as a main weapon against radicalization and violent extremism.

As media is constantly at the risk of becoming a vehicle for hate speech, the need for accurate and truthful reporting becomes vital. Furthermore, media needs to report reliable and unbiased information to the public with a deep understanding of conflict. Therefore it is of crucial importance to promote conflict-sensitive journalism practices, says UNESCO.

“Young women and men must have confidence in themselves, in their communities, in their futures,” said the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova adding: “They must know their own histories to defend those of others. Their rights must be respected, to share these with all humanity.”

UNESCO will, firstly, support global research on linkages between youth, Internet, radicalization/ de-radicalization, as well as research-informed policies and actions. It will than strive to empower youth online communities and key youth stakeholders on topics relevant to counter-radicalization, by building their competencies and skills and by equipping them with creative tools and knowledge.

It will aslo aim to strengthen mobilization and cooperation between media professionals and practitioners to fight radicalization and online hate speech, with a focus on countries suffering tensions.

In light of the framework proposed it is also of crucial importance to promote cross-cultural dialogue among journalists, since media reflects tensions in society (religion, diversity, etc.) and plays an essential role communicating such sensitive issues to the citizens.

Journalists need to be able to objectively report and improve understanding of such issues without contributing to “fanning the flames”. Lastly, in light of increased violent attacks around the world, priority will be also be safety of journalists through serious of project involving young journalists.

Finally, UNESCO will support creative media campaigns and outreach strategies targeting policy-and opinion-makers as well as the general public. Building on the #Unite4Heritage campaign this project will support the communication campaign to share powerful stories of young victims of radicalization; to create and distribute new counter-narratives that would undermine the appeal of extremist messages; to harness the power of social networks to mobilize young people to raise their voice and put them at the center of the solution. Communication and outreach will take place through a combination of Internet and social media use, partnerships with traditional media engagement of renowned experts and offline activities.